Canvas founders join Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge to give away half their fortune

The Giving Pledge announced Tuesday that 14 more billionaires, including the founders of Australian design startup Canva and the CEOs of DoorDash and Pinterest, have promised in 2021 to donate more than half their fortunes, raising the total to 231 philanthropists from 28 countries.

Founded in 2010 by Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates and Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge aims to foster a culture of philanthropy among the world’s wealthiest to tackle the world’s biggest problems.

“I’ve always believed that if you’re in a position to help somebody, you should do it,” Gates said in a statement. He said the new group will “continue to learn from each other and find new ways to maximise the positive impact of our philanthropy.”

Canva CEO Melanie Perkins has vowed to give away more than half of her fortune.

This year’s new Giving Pledge philanthropists include Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht, co-founders of design platform Canva; Tony Xu, the CEO and co-founder of DoorDash, and his wife, Patti Bao; and Ben Silbermann, CEO and co-founder of Pinterest, and his wife, Divya.

Perkins and Obrecht, who got married at the start of this year, hold a 30 per cent stake – valued at over $16 billion – in Canva. The Sydney-based company, set up to allow anyone to easily design products such as greeting cards, posters, websites and presentation slides, has become the world’s fifth most valuable startup after TikTok owner ByteDance, payments fintech Stripe, Elon Musk’s space travel venture SpaceX and buy now, pay later firm Klarna Bank, data from research firm CB Insights shows.

“Billions upon billions of dollars is more than anyone needs in their entire lifetime by a longshot,” Perkins said in an interview earlier this year. “It’s not often that you have the right idea, at the right time with the right, incredible team, and with the right investors who believe in your vision.”

Jon Ayers, former CEO of veterinary services firm IDEXX Laboratories and current chairman of Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organisation, also signed the pledge with his wife, Helaine. He said they wanted to learn from other philanthropists to be more effective with donations.

“I think it’s a commitment of not just money, but it’s a commitment of time to be good,” said Ayers, 65. “I think it’s a very, very important responsibility.”

Ayers and his wife have become the largest private supporters of lion conservation in the world. Earlier this year, Ayers pledged $US20 million ($28.1 million) over the next ten years to Panthera to preserve wild cats and their ecosystems around the world. After joining the Giving Pledge, he said, plans to donate even more to Panthera and other nonprofits that are dedicated to wild cats and nature conservation.

Ayers, who became a quadriplegic after a bicycling accident in 2019, said that his work in trying to protect wild cats, who are vital to their ecosystems, has become inspirational to him.

“The challenges of my condition are pretty significant,” he said. “It’s not an easy condition to endure, but, by having a purpose, it helps me be excited every day.”

Other new Giving Pledge philanthropists have found singularly important causes for them.

Jack Schuler, former president of Abbott Laboratories and a founding investor of Ventana Medical Systems, and his wife, Renate, plan to give all his wealth to the Schuler Education Foundation that he founded to help send underserved students to selective colleges.

Jared Isaacman, CEO of Shift4 Payments, and his wife, Monica, signed the pledge after Isaacman made a $US100 million commitment to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He helped raise millions more for St Jude through a three-day private spaceflight in September for himself and three other space tourists.

India’s Anil Agarwal, The Netherlands’ Steven Schuurman, Brazil’s David Vélez and Mariel Reyes, and the South Korean couples Bongjin Kim and Bomi Sul, and Miseon Hyeong and Beom-su Kim, also committed to the Giving Pledge. Americans Ric and Brenda Elias, Jeff T. Green, and Byron and Tina Trott also signed it in 2021.

“I’m inspired to see how the Giving Pledge has grown into a movement of over 230 philanthropists from around the world who are committed to giving away the vast majority of their wealth to address some of the most pressing issues in our society,” French Gates said in a statement.

AP

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